Say what you will about Kanye West's ego, but God complexes make for amazing production value. Since 2008's Glow in the Dark tour, each of the rapper-producer-mastermind's treks around the world has been a complete spectacle. Remember the fireballs and cube-shaped stages of the Watch the Throne tour, and the biblical pageantry and freaking mountain of the Yeezus tour? We don't yet know what 'Ye has in store for his tour in support of this year's fantastic The Life of Pablo, but rest assured, it will be worth the price of admission. Get on this ultralight beam.
There are beer festivals, and then there’s Snallygaster. The former are a dime a dozen; the latter is essentially a local craft-beer nerd's Comic-Con and Super Bowl rolled into one. Overseen by Neighborhood Restaurant Group beer czar Greg Engert, the fifth annual "gargantuan beer jamboree" will bring over 350 of the country's finest (and often extraordinarily hard-to-find) brews to the Yards for an afternoon of highbrow debauchery. And proving that not all beer festivals need to be soundtracked by acoustic-guitar bros or the Little River Band, Massachusetts guitar heroes Speedy Ortiz will be performing.
Now in its fifth year, the Navy Air Force Half Marathon remains an unsung race on DC’s competitive jogging calendar. The Army 10-Miler and the Marine Corps Marathon are headaches to get into, but this one? You can sign up a week out! It’s a nice course, too, composed mostly of Rock Creek Park and Hains Point -- this isn’t a route that’s going to throw many hills at you. And if you’re feeling slightly less than ambitious, there’s the Navy 5-Miler, too. Take advantage of those dipping temperatures while you can.
Friday - Sunday
Thirteen years after being authorized, a decade after its site was selected, and almost four years after concrete was first poured, the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History & Culture finally opens on the National Mall. This is a big deal. To mark the occasion, the museum will host three days of programming: Friday’s festival will be highlighted by musical performances, spoken word, and oral histories, and on Saturday morning, President Obama and other dignitaries will dedicate the museum and officially open its doors. Reserve admission passes in advance here.
Saturday - Saturday
Sep 24-Oct 1
For craft beer aficionados, DC Beer Week is the most wonderful time of the year. Over eight days and nights, bars and restaurants within the Beltway fete the remarkable growth of the area’s beer scene. The week is bookended by two marquee events: Old Ebbitt Grill’s BrewHaHa shindig, and Denizens' Make It Funky Fest, an exploration of the wild and sour ales that have captured American audiences’ interest in recent years. In between, dozens of events are happening across town -- some big, some small, most free of admission. An added bonus: earlier this month, area breweries got together at 3 Stars to make their annual Solidarity brew -- this year, a hoppy Belgian pale ale -- so be on the lookout for that all week.
Monday - Monday
Generally speaking, summer outdoor movies are never as fun as we want them to be: they’re too hot, they start too late, and no one wants to see The African Queen. But Crystal City’s Crystal Scream is different. Each Monday in October, the neighborhood hosts a screening of a scary movie. Watching scary movies in big crowds is always more fun than at home, and because it’s fall, the sun sets earlier, and temperatures are brisk. Grab a good blanket, a thermos full of spiked cider, and get ready to shriek.
All Things Go’s Fall Classic music festival returns for a third year this October, and with it comes an upgrade in venues. Union Market is out; the more spacious Yards is in. Don’t worry, the line-up still trends very heavily towards the neon-bright synth pop that’s made the fest a favorite among teenagers and post-grads. The names at the top of the ticket are certainly bigger, though: Empire of the Sun, Passion Pit, and Sylvan Esso all promise to bring good vibes and flashing lights. Throw on your finest tank top, adorn yourself in glow sticks, and let loose.
Monday - Tuesday
Hello, it’s Adele: she's wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet her in Gallery Place. That’s right, 11 months after the release of her record-breaking 25, she’s finally visiting DC. And let’s be honest, half the people reading this would probably name their first child Adele for tickets -- maybe you already named your first child Adele. The appeal of the British mega-star known no bounds.
Friday - Sunday
The National Zoo
The only thing cuter than a panda is a little kid dressed as a panda looking at a panda. On the weekend before Halloween, you can see for yourself at the National Zoo’s annual Boo at the Zoo. Pro tip: if you’re trying to win Aunt or Uncle of the Year (or have critters of your own), take them; they will love it.
Thursday - Sunday
Lincoln Theatre (& other locations)
Few people in comedy are as beloved as Tig Notaro, so when she calls up her friends and invites them to perform at her festival, they tend to show up. And Notaro knows a lot of very famous, very funny people. All of them will descend upon DC in late October for her fifth Bentzen Ball. Organized by Brightest Young Things, the festival spans four nights across several venues around town, and it’s filled with all sorts of comedy -- standup shows, podcast tapings, cabaret, and even a horror storytelling gathering this year. The full lineup is still taking shape, but the best part of any Bentzen Ball gig is that you never know who might dropped by and grab the mic.
The National Zoo
You can also cut out the babysitting responsibilities of your zoo date, and take your significant other to Night of the Living Zoo. This adults-only event features craft beer, food truck fare, and a costume contest. It also boasts a "devilish dance party hosted by DJ Squirrel," which sounds legitimately terrifying.
Monday - Sunday
Sherry Week is an international celebration of fortified Spanish wine, and here in DC, more and more restaurants, like José Andrés’ Jaleo and Barmini, have been embracing the week and offering special, sherry-based cocktail menus. If last year is any indication, you can expect some pop-ups to sprout up for the occasion, so keep your eyes peeled for both options. Either one is a great way to explore the world of Oloroso, PX Sherry, and Manzanilla.
Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center
Capital Food Fight sets the bar impossibly high for food festivals in this town. The DC Central Kitchen fundraiser brings over 75 of the DC area’s best restaurants under one roof, and for $250, you can get everything they have to offer. Yes, $250 is most certainly not cheap, but this package includes two live cooking battles, free cocktails, celebrity chefs, and a speakeasy... OK, it’s still expensive, but it’s for charity, and you’re guaranteed to leave 10lbs heavier.
Friday - Sunday
Whether you’re a fan of photography or just looking for a good excuse to get out of the apartment, FotoWeekDC is an embarrassment of riches. If past years are any indication, you can expect over 100 events at 40 different locations ranging from boutique galleries to the National Building Museum. It’s not just pictures on a wall, either: in addition to meticulously curated exhibitions from both local and international photographers, there are FotoTalks, panel discussions, and film screenings... or if your primary goal is looking cool with a drink in your hand, start with the opening night party.